Bringing wine through Canada without paying duties?

I’m planning a France trip from Michigan, and it’s hundreds of dollars less to drive across the border and fly from Windsor, Ontario, than from Detroit Metro (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Airlines). But on the return my couple of cases of wine would have to clear Canadian customs before I can drive them back into the US – and paying Canadian duty, tax and LCBO markup would more than negate what I’d save on the flight. Has anyone ever dealt with this, and is there a workaround I’m not seeing?

Have not done this curious to hear what others have to say. I’m guessing quantities not large as it sounds like you’re carrying them with you on flight back. I have never been charged on small quantities carried with us. (One time the agent at the exit door seemed surprised we’d been cleared given the $ amount). But you can’t count on this. Pretty sure you’d get charged on case loads. Likely cheaper to ship Dirrct to US.

Wife and I each plan to check one case. The only time I ran into this before was many years back, driving across Canada from NY to Michigan. Somehow I managed to convince the Canadian customs guy that we were just passing through, and he cut me a break. But I don’t want to depend on getting lucky again, when the total charge (duty, tax andes Ontario LCBO markup!) would be well into the hundreds.

I would contact the consulate and ask… No harm in determining this information out ahead of time. Then you are prepared. I know that it should not be taxed for personal consumption…

I am facing the same issue. I booked 2 one tickets. I am flying from Toronto and using frequent flyer miles to fly back to Buffalo. I don’t want to take a chance that I will get dinged for taxes and LCBO. If it were only 1 or 2 bottles, I wouldn’t be concerned but my 12 bottle Vingarde Valise likely to be held hostage.

We’re going to Finger Lakes and then driving to Toronto. I guess i won’t be bringing any wine from the Finger Lakes home.

Tom, you could probably have them ship the wines home from the Finger Lakes for a not-unreasonable amount. In my case, it’s not a cost-effective option to ship a couple of cases back from France.

I’ve sent an email to the Canadian consulate in Detroit to ask if there’s any workaround available, as Mike suggested. Will post here if I get a reply. Meantime, suggestions still welcome.

We’re going in August, so they would have to hold for a few months. Although I’ve brought back wine from France in August.

I live in Ontario and have shipping addresses in Port Huron Mi. and Niagara Falls N.Y. for U.S.orders. Last Aug., I returned from Germany with a case of rarities from friends and former customers, hence no value for them to declare. Being 75 and a lifelong b. s. er, I was lucky to get a friendly customs agent who laughed at my story and waved me thru. Unfortunately after 40 years , this happens only maybe 1 out of 10 trips.Remember- honey not vinegar when dealing with customs.

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That’s a great story – but, as you say, I wouldn’t place my money on landing a sympathique customs agent when the more likely alternative is a $1000 bill for duties and taxes.

Back in the day – before they got more sophisticated with computerized databases of wine values – we had a Toronto friend who also shipped his wine to US border cities. He’d acquired a supermarket-style price sticker gun, and would slap $3.99 and $5 price tags on his high-end Bordeaux and Burgundy, declare them at the border accordingly, and pay the duty with a smile. The customs agents, with zero wine knowledge, were none the wiser.

Already heard back from the Canadian consulate this morning, and they’ve referred me to Canadian Customs to see if there’s another option. Stay tuned.

Yes, the joys of having a monopoly system. When I started cross border in the late seventies, it was a flat rate $2.50 per bottle whatever the price or country of origin, then the L.C.B.O got their finger in the pie, hence this current system. At 75, I’m not buying much out of country, but one trick I often used was to buy a case or 2 of the cheapest wine in the store, pay , then return and get a store credit, buy what I want and show the low receipt to customs if they ask. Sounds like your case is too late, but in the future!! Good luck.

Good luck Joel. Curious on the answer here since Canada is just a pass though to a final destination in the US. Of course US customs would also have to be cleared as well.

The snag that I see is that once you are in Canada with the goods, how do they know that the goods will not remain in Canada and will in fact exit into the USA.

Back in the old days I recall something like a duty drawback. Goods received in were assessed a duty and then you had to apply for a refund when the goods left the country. This was in a commercial environment however.

The wine in the 20 Mile Bench is better anyways. It’s nice coming the other way because the US border doesn’t care.

That’s always been my experience, as well. US collects very little in duty and taxes, because (unlike Canada) they base it on volume and alcohol content, not product value. In most cases, it’s not worth their time to fill out all the required paperwork just to collect $10 or $20, so they just wave me through.

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It sounds like a headache to do all this, but every bottle I’ve hand carried back from Europe has been extra satisfying when opening years later. It brings back memories of the adventure to be savored again.

Silly question, why not fly back to Buffalo, which i understand is a budget flight airport

Because our home is Michigan, which is a five+ hour drive around the lake.

No response from Canada Customs yet on any possible workaround.

You mentioned four figure duties so I guess it comes down to what your time is worth :grinning:
Seriously I can see not wanting a five hour drive after a transatlantic flight.

Will be fascinated to see CBS response. There probably is a way to get the HST back, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on the rest.

Have you tried calling the Windsor tunnel customs office? They have been helpful to me in the past.

I have no knowledge, so just wishing you the best. My somewhat limited experience of wines coming the other way and everything I’ve heard over the years, it’s the opposite way (bringing them in to CAN to stay) that Can customs cares about. I had the impression everything is cool (from a Canadian POV) doing it your direction.